The Internet in its early stages was a very technical interface, which most people had difficulty navigating through. But that all changed when the Mosaic web browser entered the scene in 1993.
Mosaic was one of the first “user-friendly” Internet portals – although by today’s standards, it was very difficult to access a browser. Relatively speaking, modern browsers with high usage now have changed dramatically. This James Eagle animation chronicles the development of the web browser market, showing the rise and fall of various internet portals from January 1994 to March 2022.
From Mosaic to Netscape In the early 1990s, Mosaic was by far the most popular web browser. At that time, about 97% of all internet searches were done through this popular web portal. Internet Browser – Share Percentage (January 1994)
Browser displaying images
Mosaic was the first web browser to display images directly on a page aligned with text. Previous browsers loaded images as separate files, which meant that users had to click, download, and open a new file to view them.
The groundbreaking portal was created by a team of undergraduates at the University of Illinois, led by 21-year-old Mark Andreessen. When Andreessen graduated, he became the co-founder of Mosaic Communications Corporation, which evolved into Netscape Communications Corporation, the company that created Netscape Navigator.
Netscape was originally a new and improved version of Mosaic, but since the University of Illinois acquired the rights to Mosaic, the new Andreessen could not actually use any of the original code.
Netscape was an almost immediate success, and as a result, Mosaic’s market share began to decline. By the late 1990s, Netscape captured 89% of the web browser market.
Internet Browser – Share Percentage (April 1996)
Netscape dominated the market for a few more years. However, in the new millennium, a new tech giant began to take over Internet Explorer.
Netscape 89% 7% 4% Mosaic Internet Explorer Entering Internet Explorer In 1995, Microsoft released Internet Explorer as part of an add-on package for its operating system, Microsoft Windows 95.
Due to the popularity of the Windows franchise at the time, Internet Explorer was quickly adopted. By the early 2000s, it captured more than 90% of the market, reflecting Microsoft’s dominance of the personal computing market.
Internet Browser – Share Percentage (January 2000)
18% 77% Other Opera Netscape had mostly been exited from the market by that time, which meant that Internet Explorer didn’t have much competition until Mozilla entered the arena.
Founded by Netscape members, Mozilla began in 1998 as a project to advance innovation in the web browser market. They’ve shared Netscape’s source code with the public, and over time have built a community of programmers around the world who’ve helped make the product even better.
By 2004, Mozilla Firefox had launched, and by 2006, the free open source browser had captured nearly 30% of the market. Firefox and Internet Explorer struggled for a few more years, but by the mid-2010s, both browsers started to jump out of Google Chrome.
The king of web browsers
When Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin pitched the idea of starting a Google web browser to CEO Larry Schmidt in 2003, he was concerned that they couldn’t keep up with the fierce competition. Ultimately, the founders convinced Schmidt, and in 2008, Google Chrome was launched to the public.
One of Chrome’s distinguishing features was (and still is) the fact that each tab runs separately. This means that if a tab is frozen, neither it nor the others will crash, at the cost of higher memory and CPU usage.
By 2013, Chrome had swallowed half the market. With Android emerging as the most popular mobile operating system in the global market, there have been more Chrome installs (and of course Google searches) as a result.
Notes on data and methodology
It is important to note that the dataset in this animation uses guest log files from the W3Schools web development and resource site from 1999 onwards. Despite getting more than 60 million monthly visits, its user base is likely to lean more towards PC over mobile users.
Furthermore, although Google’s Android platform has a significant lead over Apple’s iOS in the global mobile sector, this tendency is likely to also affect the representation of iOS and thus Safari browsers in animations and dataset.
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